Pat Mussieux

Are you determined not to age?

We live in a youth-oriented society, where the fastest growing group, the Baby Boomers, learned, “Never trust anyone over thirty.”

They’ve probably extended that limit by now; I haven’t checked recently to see what it is. 60? 70?

We see ads everywhere for products and services to erase wrinkles, get rid of flab (painlessly and quickly), and make your teeth whiter than nature intended (without giving up coffee or red wine).

So let’s look at a few facts:

Aging starts when you are born. Not at an age you have mentally selected as “over the hill,” but from the start. Change is inevitable; the question is, “What change?”

And more importantly, what determines that change? If you shrug and say, “It’s just my genes. My mother/father was the same,” you aren’t up to date on the latest findings. (Check up on Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief to read the latest research on this topic.)

Would you believe that beliefs are possibly the most important determinant of how you age? Not when you age, but how. So watch what you believe.

Do you believe 50 is over the hill? 60? 70? Oh, well, not until 80? Whatever you believe, you will experience. You will look for signs of aging and because you look, you will find them.

Let’s say you or someone near you has a memory short-circuit. If the person is 18, we say, “how careless.” If the person is 80, we say, “senior moment.”

Do you have some physical problems that get in the way of your full enjoyment of life, and you say, “Well, I’m just getting old?” Perhaps you don’t remember the tragedy (it seemed like a tragedy) of adolescent acne, crooked teeth that needed straightening, or overly-oily hair that wouldn’t behave (but your mother insisted you go to school anyway).

Everyone has physical problems, mental problems, emotional problems, at any and every age. How you explain those problems determines whether you are a problem-solver, dedicated to finding a solution (or at least a way to co-exist with the problem while continuing to pursue your dreams).

Your beliefs will, in turn, guide you to make wise choices in what you eat, what you do, how you organize your day, who you select to share your time and your life. To live a healthy, vigorous life, you must believe that you can make an important difference in what happens to you.

We all know our time on this planet is limited, but finding simplistic solutions to the challenges we face and providing an explanation (“It’s just old age”) that releases us from the responsibility of dealing effectively with those problems doesn’t make that time pleasant. Focusing on pain and loss, not surprisingly, leads to more pain and loss.

Remember when you were told you were too young to do certain things? And how much you resented it, longing for the day when you were old enough? Then, poof, you were old enough, and then, another poof … the culture tells you … you’re too old.

Some people do more than just survive for their time on the planet; they thrive. They participate eagerly in life, continue to grow, invent new dreams when old ones disappear or are realized, and recognize that love and excitement are not limited to a group of people in a certain age bracket.

The French say, “If youth but knew; if old age but could.” Here’s the final secret some of us already know, and here’s what you can learn: you CAN have both wisdom and the ability to fulfill your dreams at the same time.

Use your wisdom to develop beliefs that lead to actions that make your path here a joyful one.

The Work of Worry

Personal note

The coming weeks are filled with excitement for me, as I prepare to speak at a Lutheran Women’s Conference on Saturday, and then take off for Toronto for a conference with Pat Mussieux and the Wealthy Women Leaders. All this, amidst busy preparation for my book launch of The Confident Introvert, and numerous speaking engagements from October through November.

With so many events and so many details to take care of, it’s easy to fall into the trap of worrying about what might happen.  This week’s article is a reminder for me as well as for you, as it addresses the question “Does worrying ever do any good?”

The Work of Worry

Does worrying ever do any good? Yes, if it means that you are planning ahead. That is the work of worry: to foresee a problem and take steps to avoid it. Whether it involves getting your car checked before a long road trip, turning off the water to the outside of your house before the big freeze sets in, or setting out a program to complete a project before a deadline, worry can be the motivator.

Having taken those steps, you should be able to relax. Many people, however, continue to obsess over the possibility that something bad may happen.

Suppose you’re concerned about fire and the possibility that it will wipe out your home and all its contents. You clear out hazardous clutter, take out fire insurance, and make sure you turn off heat-generating appliances when you leave the house.

Then you go live your life without being obsessively preoccupied with the matter.

If you still walk around thinking constantly of the threat of fire, you’re obsessing and you’re in constant low-level stress. Remember, your mind cannot tell the difference between a deeply- imagined event and a real one. It flashes the “danger” signal, and your body responds with the fight-or-flight response. One stressful thought can easily become many stressful imaginary “events,” repeatedly triggering the physical reaction that leaves you fatigued, with higher blood pressure and a lowered immune system response, among other things.

How to change “worrying” to “problem-solving”

Take out “insurance”: If you are concerned about a negative outcome to a situation, think of what is within your power to do to prevent that outcome. Do it; then let go of those worrisome thoughts.

If you frequently have difficulty letting go of worrisome thoughts:

Think of alternate scenarios: is this the only way this experience could play out?

Getting locked into one thought pattern keeps you from imagining other possible outcomes, leaving you unprepared. For example, many things could happen to your home: It could be burglarized or swept away by a tornado during your absence. But the highest probability is that your house will be safe.

What is the probability the alarming scenario will occur? 

You may not have a mathematically precise idea, but ask yourself this: Are you behaving as if there is a 100% probability? 50%? 20%? The amount of time you devote to thinking about the challenge should be roughly proportional to the likelihood it will occur.

Keep a record of your predictions – and their outcomes

Often we predict alarming things and then forget that we were wrong. Then, if you are a really good constant worrier, you just go on to worrying about something else without pausing to critique your last prediction. Keep a record of your alarming predictions: write them down. Later on, after the event, write down what the actual outcome was. You may be surprised to note how seldom what you predicted really does come true.

Rose sniffing

Personal note

Last week I flew to London, Ontario, Canada, to meet with my Master Mind group, and especially, my dynamic coach, Pat Mussieux.  I can’t say enough about this group and our coach; when the man at Passport Control on the U.S. side asked,  incredulously, “You flew to Canada for 1-1./2 days?” I was challenged to try to explain myself.  But I am renewed, recharged, and ready to share the results of that experience with friends and readers.


Rose Sniffing

We had a lovely speaker return to my women’s group last week. She is an expert on women’s  health, and once again  she provided us with arcane and useful information that we could have gotten nowhere else.  She did it with such gentle grace and humor that we felt soothed and refreshed at the end of an intense hour and a half.

At the end of her talk she announced that this was her last talk.  She had resigned from her job in order to have time to smell the roses.

How lovely for her.  How lousy for us.

We might wonder: must we wait for the end of our careers in order to have time to enjoy life?  Is there no other way to savor life deeply?

Here’s a little experiment to try:  Select a beautiful object – how about a rose? – to  contemplate fully and completely for  all of two minutes.  Immerse yourself in the experience; notice color, texture, line, fragrance, whatever is relevant to the object you have chosen.

Feeling distracted and fidgety?  Take a deep, slow breath and continue to gaze at this object.

Immerse yourself  in its timeless beauty. Savor it.

Don’t do this just once and then forget about it.

You might make a small collection of objects that are suitable for relaxed gazing; a kaleidoscope, with its vast array of changing patterns, has always been one of my favorites.  Keep your collection handy when you need to pause and remember how to savor life.

What if we incorporated a little rosebud sniffing into our daily life? I thought of this as I rushed from one appointment to another last week.  Yes, I was walking rapidly, but at the same time I noticed, and deeply appreciated, the cherry blossoms and the lacy patterns of their shadows on the sidewalk, the almost-neon green of the new grass, and the flash of red as a cardinal darted in and out of the foliage.

Even as you move through your busy daily routine, you can remind yourself to leave no rose unsniffed.

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